Confession by Kimo Armitage Before you came along with your pen, I told my secrets to the ocean. Someone I wronged is there we cremated him, watched as the frigate birds circled the shore. Today, I whisper, “The fire was not my fault.” But I know the desire to devour everything it touches, feel the heat crackle, let my tongue taste the smoke, see the hairs on my arm stick up. I travel West, the sun on my back because I am ashamed. I land in a plantation village. A kind woman named Hatsuko makes soup from eels they writhe in my dreams, and became ropes around my wrists. When the eels finally let me go I run to Chinatown, to drink snake's blood. I am courageous, but only when fighting with my new lover, a delicious Chinese woman with porcelain fingers. She reads my fortune, and predicts that I will die alone. I am told later that heroin swallows the beautiful angles of her face but by then I had already cut my wrists into strips when my Filipino butler returned to his wife. I befriend a Korean woman who makes pickled cabbage from her own hands. We let the juice fall from the corners of my mouth, and stare at each other until my wrists start to bleed wine and I cry when I remember the sounds of my mother's racism, the sound of her money paying for murder. I pine for a beautiful man who punches my jaw and takes away my ability to taste. I let my hair grow out but it does not hide the scars. Eventually, one of my eyes changes color when the tumor grows larger. But I still love this man who makes me grovel while taking all my possessions. When a kind man brings me jasmine tea, I curse him for arriving late. He teaches me how to talk to the ocean, but he does not love me. I confess every day about the body in the car trunk. Never once does he turn away. I face East again when he takes my face in both hands and teaches me the names of moon phases in his language. I see him in Safeway buying pumpkins, Chablis, and cinnamon and I know he is in love. I follow him to their house, the cool Northward wind prevents them from having children. I profess to you, again. The fire was not my fault. You see, I come from a place where ashes float like snow in the air. Where the greatest racism is our own self-hate, and we can never seem to find ourselves in others. We will all be gone one day, but in this lovely place, there will be these truths: the South bearing wind will always bring the humidity, too many barbiturates will kill you, and the ocean currents will retell the same stories, again and again if we place our open palms onto the face of sea.
Kimo Armitage draws upon the rich stories of his youth spent in Haleiwa, Hawaii, where he was raised by his maternal grandparents. He is the winner of the 2016 Maureen Egan Writers Exchange in Poetry administered by Poets & Writers. Armitage published his first novel, The Healers, with the University of Hawaii Press in April 2016.